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Gillibrand touts new military bill

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is pushing her colleagues to set up a new process whereby the Pentagon would have to publicly evaluate and report on the possible elimination of military units before going ahead with such moves.

In response to the Air Force's attempt to eliminate an Air National Guard unit at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, Gillibrand is proposing legislative language in the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill to make the military's force structure decision-making more transparent.

"We have not been provided clear and objective metrics by which the reductions and restructuring proposed at specific installations have been selected," Gillibrand wrote in a letter signed by 12 of her colleagues, including Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

"The lack of an objective and transparent process for implementing restructuring and reductions has illustrated a need for greater clarity and improved oversight in such significant proposals," the senators added.

The letter went to the chairman and top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, which will mark up the defense authorization bill next week. Gillibrand is also expected to put forward a proposal that would, in effect, preserve the 107th Airlift Wing's mission and manpower.

"I am hopeful that with bipartisan support, we will be able to pass common-sense provisions that would retain our National Guard airmen at [the Niagara Falls base] and establish an improved oversight process for any future restructuring proposals," she said.

The House today will consider its version of the legislation -- which would grant the 107th Airlift Wing and other units threatened by the Pentagon budget plan at least one more year of life.